Saturday, May 31, 2014

Camp Arrowhead Test Run

I've been considering the Park Ave Bike Weeknight race series this year.  Last year I skipped it.  Today I rode the course I remembered from 2012, assuming this year's course will be the same.

I rode my geared 29er, hoping to ride faster than the 24" that I'd raced in the past.  It was fine except for the part of the course I hate... the sports field.  On my 24 I'd shift into my high gear because the field is "flat", but the constant bumps make it hard to ride and fatigue my lower back quickly.  My 29er seemed the same, except the high gear was too hard with the bumps and I chose to stay in my low gear.  I still used my high gear on some smooth sections of trail, so it's still useful for this course.

Looking at last year's results, I see the course is almost identical to what I rode today, but it juts out into the field, which means even more bumpy time.  Ugh.  I also see I'm more than 15 minutes slower that the slowest beginner.  I was kind of hoping my 29er would get me closer to competing against mountain bikers.  That's not happening.

There are six races.  Signing up for each race individually is $20.  That's too much for an hour ride where I'm just kind of just joining in for fun.  Not to mention the extra hour of waiting around for the race to start.  But if I sign up for all six it's $75, or $12.50 each, assuming I did them all.

I'm not sure I want to commit.  I can ride anywhere for free and choose days when the weather is optimal.  I have a few days before I need to sign up.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Whiting to Hojack and Back

Today I rode from Whiting to the end of the Hojack and back on my geared 29er.  Nothing too exciting.  I occasionally saw some other trail users.

I had a mix of failed and successful hill climbs.  I want my 24" uni sometimes.

About 14 miles:

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Hojack with Kyle 2

Awesome weather this weekend.  50's and sunny.  Today I decided to ride but choosing where was a chore.  I thought of West Bay but my 24 uni still in pieces in my garage since the last time I swapped parts to my 29, and I'd prefer it on those trails.  The problem is I only have one brake and moving it from one uni to another is tedious.  I should probably buy another brake soon.

For today, I didn't want to spend time moving parts so I chose to ride where my 29er would be fun.  Also, Amy wanted Kyle to get some exercise before he played video games, so I decided the Hojack would be best.  Kyle rode his mountain bike.

The ride was good and about as exciting as can be expected for the Hojack.  The areas that are muddy continue to be muddy.  Kyle didn't complain that I was going too slow or too fast, but I suspect he could have ridden faster on his bike.

Looking back, I did an almost identical ride a year ago with Kyle.

We rode close to 13 miles.

At one of the crossroads, a man who looked like a runner made some comments, and mentioned a unicyclist named Eric Scheer who rode some big rides and something about Mt. Washington.  I had never heard of him, but he shows up on Google.  Anyway, just leaving myself a note here in case it comes up some day.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Tour de Webster 2

I haven't been feeling super excited about muni lately.  I like to have some kind of goal to be riding for.  Sometimes my goal has been riding specific trails successfully.  Maybe that's wearing out. Upcoming races are good motivation, but there aren't a whole lot in the month of May.

Though there are a few events this month in Pennsylvania, including The Six Hours of Brady's Run.  I was very close to doing this race on Saturday and even had hotel reservations, which I canceled.  Registration was open until Thursday and I hesitated because rain was looming, and because it was in Beaver Falls, PA.  It's a 5 hour drive which means staying the night before and likely the night of the race.  Time and money add up quick and by Wednesday I was feeling like it wasn't worth it. This race is most similar to the local Suicide Six race I've done in August.  I've only ever been able to do two laps in that and I've left the race well before it officially ended.  Again, maybe not worth the costs of a weekend trip to PA.  Sure I'd see some muni friends, but not much during the actual race.  I really wish it were local.  But the Brady's Run race was able to get 8 muni riders and I don't see that happening locally.

Anyway, I didn't feel much motivation for riding this weekend.  Yesterday was crazy windy.  So today was the day to ride, despite a headache.  Looking for motivation and a good place to ride, I remembered the Tour de Webster ride I did in 2012.  So that was the plan:  road from home - Webster Park - Whiting - Gosnell Big Woods - Big Field - Vosburg - Hojack - road to home.

This time I rode my geared 29 which made the roads and Hojack more exciting, as I rode between 10-13 mph.  The trails were good, but I often wished I was on a smaller wheel in the more difficult sections.  Parts of Webster Park where I entered were swampy as expected, but I'm not sure of a better entrance on the east side.  Unlike last time, I didn't respect the "Pedestrian Only" rules and rode through the Big Woods.  It has some nice features and I don't see why bikes aren't allowed.  In any case, my 24 would have been better on some of the rooty climbs and descents.

ended my ride at the photography studio
At Vosburg I stopped and called home to see if my family wanted to meet me at North Ponds Park, which I'd soon be passing on the Hojack.  It's Mother's Day after all!  Amy already had a plan to go to the Webster Arboretum for some photo shooting of the kids.  As I cruised down the Hojack at breakneck speed I thought I'd possibly extend my ride and head to the arboretum instead of home.  That's what I did, and after meeting up with my family, I ended my ride with a loop around the arboretum "trails", and hitched a car ride home.

It was a good ride and I feel more into the sport than I had during the week.  My lower back muscles got rather fatigued, but that's often a problem.  It looks like I rode close to 17 miles.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Webster and Whiting 29er

I can't remember ever riding my 29er at Webster Park and Whiting.  I'm always trying to conquer the the hills and I figured my 24 is going to give me an advantage for that.  But after riding my 29er before and during the Singlespeed-a-Palooza race, I got accustomed to its speed.  My 24 has a geared hub, so it can be fast, but I only engage the high gear on longer stretches of relatively flat trail.  It has been seeming too slow in the non-technical areas where I don't Schlumpf.

So today I chose my single-speed 29er and rode at Webster and Whiting.  As expected, I appreciated its speed on most trails.  And on trails where I normally would have shifted my geared 24 into high gear, I didn't miss anything.  Unfortunately my climbing ability on the steepest hills took a hit and I failed on most of them.

This is the plight of the modern muni rider.  Wheel size and gearing.  If only these could vary while riding.  The Schlumpf gives us a high gear, but that's only good in a handful of situations.

I may be going to another race soon, and I'm thinking the ungeared 29er would be my choice.  I'll miss my smaller wheel for climbing, but I think it will be the best compromise.  Race details to follow.

I enjoyed today's ride.  It was in the 50's and was threatening to rain but only sprinkled.  The trails were still just as muddy in places as a week ago, because it has been raining most of the week.